Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra, with Harp and Strings (Premier recording)
Morton GOULD

Spirituals for Strings

Adagio for Strings
William Howard SCHUMAN
Symphony No. 5 (Symphony for Strings)
Charles Neidlich (clarinet), I Musici de Montreal - Yuli Turovsky
recorded September 1998 and 7-11 June 1999, in the L'Eglise de la Nativite de la Sainte Vierge, Quebec. DDD
Chandos CHAN 9848 [65.23]

It must seem strange seeing the reference to "Premiere Recording" against what has become the world's most popular (except perhaps the Nielsen) modern Clarinet Concerto. Charles Niedlich has spent some effort searching through the archives after feeling, for some time, that the clarinet writing in the better known version was somewhat simple. Whilst reading Copland's autobiography, he was fascinated to find that there was an earlier, more complex version which had been suppressed because the composer thought it would not be played by reason of its technical challenge. This facet was written into the original work because of the virtuosity of its dedicatee, Benny Goodman, and listening to the tremendously exciting solo writing in this version, makes me wish that this version had been available a lot sooner.

Neidlich makes very easy work of the complexity and he is admirably accompanied by I Musici de Montreal, led by Yuri Turovsky. Allied to this is a superb recording in the usual Chandos manner. The disc is worth buying for the Copland alone.

We have however, the ubiquitous Adagio for Strings of Samuel Barber, and two other modernish American works which are not particularly well represented in the current catalogue.

Morton Gould's Spiritual for Strings is the less well known of his spiritual-based compositions. Unlike the other two (Spirituals for Orchestra, and Symphony of Spirituals), the Spirituals for Strings actually uses Spirituals and these are orchestrated by the composer. There are six spirituals involved, "Gospel Train - Old Time Religion, Were You There? - Steal Away, All God's Children Got Wings, Little David Play on Your Harp, Calvary - He Never Said a Mumblin' Word, and Ezekiel Saw de Wheel" - marvellous stuff.

We then move on to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, an arrangement for String Orchestra of the Adagio which Barber wrote as the slow movement to his String Quartet. This work has almost become an American anthem, plus having been arranged for Choir, String Orchestra, Synthesiser, and all manner of songs and incidental music. There cannot be many who have not heard this work. So, is this performance the one everyone should have? Well, no, but it is as good as a lot of the others and better than many.

The disc finishes with perhaps the most difficult work, that of the Symphony No. 5 (The Symphony for Strings) by William Schuman. This was written for Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1943, and is written in three movements, the last of which incorporates a quotation from Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony which brings this enterprising and well produced disc to its conclusion.

John Phillips

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit